Friday, February 10, 2017

North Korean and Bosnian dioceses twinned

Pyongyang Diocese in North Korea was twinned with Banja Luka Diocese in Bosnia-Herzegovina amid fervent prayers for healing and reunification.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul is also the apostolic administrator of Pyongyang Diocese even though religion is suppressed under the communist dictatorship. 

He visited several Balkan churches on Jan. 6-16.

He met Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo and Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka in Bosnia-Herzegovina and signed a memorandum of understanding to prepare a joint prayer for reunification and unity with Banja Luka Diocese.

The Bosnian Diocese suffered a drastic decrease in population during the civil war in 1992-1995 due to ethnic cleansing and religious persecution. The Catholic population fell from 250,000 to 5,000. Now, led by Bishop Komarica, they are trying to rebuild.

"Based on the situations that both dioceses are suffering, we will make a joint prayer and pray it together," said Father Achilleus Chung Se-teok, president of the Seoul archdiocesan Committee for National Reconciliation.

For more than 65 years, the Catholic Church in North Korea has been known as the "silent church." Then dictator Kim Il-sung purged and executed leading church figures after the communists took power in the north in 1948, severing ties with the Vatican. Contact between North Korean Catholics and the outside world remains rare.

The Korean Catholic Association has previously claimed 3,000 Catholics exist in North Korea, while the United Nations has estimated just 800. North Korea is home to fewer Catholics than almost any country in the world. Diocesan statistics suggest only Muslim-majority Afghanistan, the Maldives, Somalia and Turkmenistan have smaller numbers of practicing Catholics.

Of the few hundred Catholics believed to remain in North Korea today, most are thought to be survivors from the pre-Communist era.

Seoul Archdiocese, which acts as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Pyongyang, believes Catholic activity in North Korea represents little more than a show for foreigners amid criticism over religious persecution. Pyongyang Diocese exists only on paper in North Korea.

No comments: